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The Functions of the House of Representatives PDF Print E-mail

The National Assembly, which is the Legislature of Belize, consists of three bodies: the Governor-General, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Members of the House of Representatives are elected in a general election under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act while the Members of the Senate are appointed by the Governor-General.

Presently, there are thirty-one elected Members of the House of Representatives. The party with the majority of seats in the House of Representatives forms the Government, the Executive branch which has direct control of the civil and military apparatus of state and makes day-to-day decisions on the management of those resources. The Executive is headed by the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

One of the major parliamentary functions is making new laws or amending old laws for peace, order and good governance of Belize. The House of Representatives plays a part - obviously the largest and most important part - in the making of laws by the National Assembly. Once a Bill has been passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate it is sent to the Governor-General's Office for his Assent.  The Bill which the Governor-General assents then becomes an Act, forming part of the Laws of Belize.

Members of the House of Representatives represent the voters of Belize.  Each year the House approves a budget outlining Government's policies. When debating the budget, each elected Member speaks to the budget in terms of its impact on their respective constituencies. They also represent the actions of the House and the Government to the people.

Apart from those mentioned above, the House has several ways of holding the Government to account. During a Sitting of the House, there is a question time for Backbenchers and Opposition Members to ask questions to Ministers. There is a provision for general and urgent debates, a Select Committee of Members to investigate matters of Government. Also, upon the motion "That this House do now adjourn" any Member, customarily the Opposition, may raise any matter of public concern and a Minister may reply.


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